The Michael J Epstein Memorial Library
The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library
photo by Kelly Davidson
A PhD with his own sense of humor, who integrates all parts of his life to make music that continually stretches from genre to genre with no filler in between, Michael J. Epstein’s intellect has found a harmonious equilibrium between Professor of Audiology/scientist (literally) and pop musician who makes accessible and attention-grabbing music.
It’s impressive, finding this academic side to a musician who also loves a good joke. A teacher of Anatomy and Physiology of the Auditory System, Hearing Science and Noise & Hearing, Epstein also leads The Motion Sick. In addition, he released a sci-fi concept album (based on the cult classic The Prisoner) with his wife Sophia Cacciola, as Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling earlier this year. The music side of his brain is currently focused on a big (as in nine members) project called The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library. Epstein also owns Launch Over, a Boston-based music licensing company, focused on publishing and strategy consulting. His research must have something to do with time travel, or cloning, because there’s no other way he could do all this.
According to Epstein’s own description, The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library plays music that has, “Down tempo, indie folk/pop with alt-country and anti/counter folk tinges.” Epstein assembled eight women to play in The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library in a rather unconventional way. He found them by searching Facebook and Craigslist for people he didn’t know very well, people with a fresh perspective and even recruited outgoing ladies who had limited musical experience. Epstein has the endless energy and brains to organize such a feat. He writes the songs, many of which are based off of true stories, for the nine member assemblage. This unusual ensemble plays not only your standard acoustic guitar, drums and bass; but also ukulele, flute, trumpet, glockenspiel, melodica, viola, violin and more. His inspiration for this band started from visual and compositional elements and then the music started flowing.
The professor thought long and hard about what he would call this musical “idea” that is now a full-fledged band. He decided on The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library for a few reasons. His witty explanation reveals a quirky personality and unique musical disposition. It was a trip to Washington D.C. and Epstein’s clever mind that lead to the name. “In DC, I went to the Ronald Reagan Memorial building (a memorial site at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library),” says Epstein. “I spent the whole time there making jokes like, ‘I’m going to go to the Ronald Reagan Memorial Men’s Room and dry my hands with the Ronald Reagan Memorial Hand Dryer’. The joke kind of stuck to me.” Of course, he’s always thinking of the future and the evolving nature of his projects, even when he’s just named them. “I was reluctant to include my own name in the band name, but came around to the idea of building a project with flexibility in participant’s goals,” he says. “This means that as the project evolves, it can maintain the same umbrella project name.”
Understanding the complete systematic fundamentals of music, with dozens of ideas in his head, the project will no doubt appear in different forms and evolve into a variety of outlets for everyone involved. “We’re just going to play some songs and have fun. The project is … flexible enough for me to play solo or small shows and also diverse enough to do bigger shows.”
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